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Kerry Bentivolio
Member of the United States House of Representatives
In office
January 3, 2013 – January 3, 2015
Preceded by David Curson
Succeeded by David Trott
Personal details
Born October 6, 1951(1951-10-06) (age 71)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Republican (until 2016)
Libertarian (2016)[1] Independent (2016–present)
Spouse(s) Karen Bentivolio
Residence Milford, Michigan
Alma mater St. Mary’s College (B.A.)
Marygrove College (M.Ed)[2][3]
Occupation Teacher
Website Representative Kerry Bentivolio
Military service
Service/branch  United States Army
Michigan Army National Guard
Years of service 1970–1991, 2007
Rank Army-USA-OR-07.svg Sergeant First Class
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Operation Iraqi Freedom

Kerry Bentivolio (born October 6, 1951) was the United States Representative for Michigan's 11th congressional district, in office from 2013 to 2015. Bentivolio, a Republican, defeated Democratic nominee Syed Taj, a physician, in the November 6, 2012 election.[4] The seat was vacated by Representative Thaddeus McCotter, who resigned from Congress on July 6, 2012, and was briefly held by Democrat David Curson of Belleville, Michigan. He was defeated for the Republican nomination in his bid for a second term by attorney David Trott.[5] He launched a write-in campaign for the November 2014 general election but lost again to Trott.

Bentivolio worked as a designer in the automotive industry for twenty years, followed by teaching for fifteen years in schools and institutions.[6] He is an Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and the Iraq War.

Early life and education

Bentivolio was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1951. Bentivolio was raised in the Detroit area with four brothers. His father, a factory worker, served in World War II, while his grandfather served in World War I. He attended Oakland Community College from 1971 to 1983 where he earned an associate degree in Liberal Arts. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Social Science from Saint Mary's College in Michigan in 1999. He transferred to Michigan State University in East Lansing to attend further courses in 1989 and met his future wife, Karen. Later, he earned a master's degree in Education from Marygrove College in 2001.[2]

Military service

Bentivolio enlisted in the United States Army in November 1968 and served in Vietnam from 1970 to 1971 as an infantry rifleman. After a break in service, he later joined the Army National Guard in Michigan as a reservist and served for more than 20 years. Bentivolio was trained as an MLRS/HIMARS crewmember. He served on the home front during Operation Desert Storm and was deployed to Iraq in 2007 with an Artillery unit as a senior human resources sergeant performing combat convoy missions. He retired as a sergeant first class after a neck injury in 2008. Bentivolio's awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.[7]

Civilian career

Bentiviolio has worked as an autoworker, reindeer rancher, automotive designer, teacher, commercial home builder, Santa Claus for hire, and amateur actor before running for political office.[6][8] He taught in private schools, public schools, and adult education institutions.

Bentivolio said he took up acting in movies to get rid of his stage fright in front of cameras. In 2010, he acted in the low budget movie Lucy's Law in the role of a TV News reporter.[9] In 2011, he appeared in another low budget political satire, The President Goes to Heaven.[10]

Political career

2010 State Senate election

In 2010, Bentivolio ran for the Michigan Senate for the 15th District but was defeated by Mike Kowall in the primary. During the election, Bentivolio acknowledged that he had filed for bankruptcy in 1992 after homes he had built as a commercial builder did not sell, and Bentivolio faced judgments from creditor's collection suits in the Michigan counties of Oakland and Livingston.[6] Bentivolio also acknowledged having been involved in a lawsuit involving one of the creditors to whom he had owed money at that time; Bentivolio had started a new business doing Santa Claus appearances, and had obtained an appearance at the White House during the presidency of George H. W. Bush. Bentivolio called a news conference in Milford, whereupon the creditor complained and newspapers reported on the bankruptcy story. Bentivolio sued the vendor and several newspapers for slander and libel.[6]

2012 Congressional elections

In 2011, Bentivolio announced his candidacy for Michigan's 11th congressional district seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and was considered a long-shot to defeat incumbent Thaddeus McCotter for the Republican nomination.[11] However, Bentivolio's campaign was aided by reports that McCotter failed to qualify for the primary after failing to turn in the required minimum number of signatures to be on the ballot.[12] McCotter's campaign released a statement on May 25, 2012 conceding that there were not enough valid signatures turned in with his ballot petition.[13][14][15]

Although McCotter initially announced he would mount a write-in campaign for the seat, he opted to retire at the end of his term. However, McCotter unexpectedly resigned on July 6, 2012, causing a scramble for the vacant nomination. Bentivolio faced former state senator Nancy Cassis, a write-in candidate, for the district's Republican primary. Cassis and her supporters drew attention to the 2011 film The President Goes to Heaven in which Bentivolio had a prominent role as a doctor tending to a fictional president resembling George W. Bush.[16][17] In the movie, a fictional president instigates the September 11, 2001 attacks in a plot to justify the invasion of Iraq, but cannot get to heaven until he converts to Islam.[16][17] Bentivolio pointed out the film was a work of fiction.[17] On August 7, 2012, Bentivolio defeated Cassis and won the district's Republican nomination, pitting him against Democratic nominee Syed Taj, a physician, in the November 6, 2012 election.[18][19][20]

In August 2012, news reports stated that Bentivoio had been reprimanded for threatening students at Fowlerville, Michigan|Fowlerville High School.[21] Bentivolio said the allegations were false and politically motivated.[21] On November 1, 2012, five days before the general election, Phillip Bentivolio of Little Rock, Arkansas, the estranged brother of Bentivolio, told the Michigan Information and Research Service (MIRS) that his brother owed him $20,000 for houses they built together in Arkansas 20 years earlier.[22][23] Phillip also accused his brother of being "mentally imbalanced" and "dishonest".[22] Bentivolio responded by telling MIRS that his brother called for the first time in 20 years and threatened to go to the press if Bentivolio didn't pay him $20,000.[22][24] He said he became worried about Phillip's mental state and reported him to the Little Rock Police Department, which confirmed that officers visited and checked on Phillip's condition.[24]

On November 6, 2012, Bentivolio lost the special election for the remaining months of McCotter's term in 112th Congress to David Curson, but won the general election and became representative-elect for the 11th Congressional District.

2014 Congressional election

Bentivolio faced an August 5, 2014 Republican Primary challenge for the Michigan's 11th congressional district seat from lawyer David Trott who announced his bid on September 4, 2013. He was defeated by Trott in the primary, making him the third incumbent defeated in a Republican primary in 2014. He served out the rest of his term.[25] However, Congressman Bentivolio mounted what The Hill described as a lackluster write-in campaign for the November 2014 election to continue serving in his seat.[26]

Bentivolio finished the general election behind Trott, Democratic challenger, Bobby McKenzie, and Libertarian candidate John Tatar, and will relinquish his seat in January.[27]

A May 20–22 poll of likely Republican primary voters run by Target Insyght and commissioned by MIRS (Michigan Information & Research Service, Inc.) showed Rep. Bentivolio leading Trott 33% to 21%.[28] The poll also showed a significant unfavorability rating for Trott among the Republicans surveyed.

A July 12–13 poll commissioned by the Detroit Free Press and WXYZ-TV indicated that Bentivolio's support had dropped considerably in the face of a strong media barrage from the Trott campaign; Trott led in the poll of likely Republican primary voters 53%–31%, with 16% undecided.[29]

In the Republican primary, Trott defeated Bentivolio by 42,008 votes (66.4%) to 21,254 (33.6%).[5][30][31]

After his defeat, Bentivolio announced that he was running a write-in campaign. He alleged that after Trott won the primary, the Trott campaign "kept up the attacks, but they expanded it beyond me. After they won the race, they continued to beat up me, my family members, as well as my staff... I put them on notice: If they didn't stop I'm probably going to end up doing a write-in campaign. And they didn't stop." The Trott campaign has denied this, saying that "nothing like that occurred." Bentivolio does not think he will win, or even "get enough votes to keep [Trott] from getting elected... all I'm concerned about is getting people who want a voice through a protest vote to do a protest vote."[32]

2016 Congressional election

Bentivolio originally sought to run for Congress in 2016 as a Republican again,[33] however he abandoned these plans and launched a short lived bid to seek the Libertarian nomination for vice president.[4] Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld would ultimately receive the Libertarian nomination. On July 21, 2016, Bentivolio announced he would seek a re-match with Trott in the 11th District, this time attempting to do so as an independent.[34] Bentivolio submitted more than the minimum 3,000 signatures that are required to gain a spot on the November general election ballot as a non-party affiliated candidate and was placed on the ballot.[34]

Political positions

Bentivolio describes himself as a conservative with libertarian ideals on most issues and has been endorsed by the Tea Party Express. He strongly supports the right to bear arms.[35]

He describes freedom of speech as "vital to our society."[36] According to his campaign website, he opposes "any measures to regulate speech on the Internet, or to license and regulate the behavior of Internet service providers."[37]

According to Young Americans for Liberty, he supports a non-interventionist foreign policy.[38]

According to, Bentivolio is pro-life.[39] Bentivolio's campaign website says that he opposes federal subsidies for abortion providers, foreign aid that "supports abortion in other nations" and requirements that religious institutions provide coverage for abortion as part of federally mandated health plans. Bentivolio's website also notes that he is endorsed by the pro-life group Right to Life Michigan.[40]

He seeks to reduce regulation and bureaucracy, cut taxes, cut government spending, and discontinue government investment in some industries.[41]

In response to a request from a concerned citizen in his district, Bentivolio promised to hold a hearing concerning the "chemtrails" conspiracy theory.[42][43]

In a video published[44] on August 23, 2013, from a town hall meeting in his district, Congressman Bentivolio said it would be a "dream come true"[45] to submit a bill with articles of impeachment for President Barack Obama. Bentivolio admitted to not having any outright evidence and instead requesting the advice of "lawyers, [with] PhDs in history" to "Tell me how I can impeach the president of the United States."

During the United States federal government shutdown of 2013, Bentivolio was one of the 144 House Republicans who voted against legislation to end the government shutdown. In explaining his vote, he said that the new health care mandate should be delayed for individuals as it was for businesses.[46][47]

U.S. House of Representatives

Bentivolio's two-year term began on January 3, 2013.


As a Representative, Bentivolio sponsored 13 bills, including:[48]

  • H.R. 746, a bill to grant businesses a 6-month grace period before being subject to any government sanction or penalty, introduced February 15, 2013
  • H.R. 939, a bill to prohibit the transfer of certain military equipment to the Egyptian government unless the Egyptian government combats terrorist groups, promotes religious and political freedoms, enforces access along the Sinai Peninsula, and is fully implementing the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty, introduced March 4, 2013
  • H.R. 1831, a bill to require bills and resolutions to contain a provision citing congressional authority, and to bar any vote from occurring if the full text of the bill or resolution has not been released publicly for at least a week, introduced May 6, 2013
  • H.R. 3993, a bill to reduce the pay of members of Congress by 15% during any fiscal year in which the federal government has a budget deficit, introduced February 5, 2014
  • H.R. 5121, a bill to prohibit U.S. Armed Forces from detaining a U.S. citizen or lawful resident alien of the United States who was captured, detained, or arrested in the United States, and to prohibit an authorization for the detention without charge or trial of a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States apprehended in the United States, introduced July 16, 2014
  • H.R. 5479, a bill to require the public release of any method used to determine credit scores, introduced September 16, 2014
  • H.R. 5779, a bill to allow for a $10,000 deduction in gross income each taxable year for certain expenses relating to attending a private school, introduced December 2, 2014

Committee assignments

  • Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
    • Subcommittee on National Security
    • Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs
  • Committee on Small Business
    • Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce
    • Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations

Personal life

Bentivolio's wife Karen is a registered nurse. They have resided in Milford, Michigan since 1982 and live on a small farm raising reindeer trained to pull Santa's sleigh in various parades and special holiday events within Michigan. They also maintain a small flock of chickens, a 25-hive apiary of honeybees, and a 115-vine vineyard. Bentivolio is an avid sportsman and bass fisherman. He is a novice golfer and enjoys clay pigeon shooting.[49]


Year Title Role
1978 The Betsy Extra
1989 84C MoPic' Viet Cong Soldier
2011 Lucy's Law Reporter
2011 The President Goes to Heaven Chief Physician

Electoral History


Michigan state Senate 15th District Election 2010, Republican Primary[50]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Mike Kowall 16,816 53.2 N/A
Republican Kerry Bentivolio 4,971 15.7 N/A
Republican Paul Graves 3,554 11.3 N/A
Republican Alan Stephens 2,881 9.1 N/A
Republican Steven Valentini 2,045 6.5 N/A
Republican John Cyrus Mohyi 1,318 4.2 N/A
Majority 11,845 37.5 -6.5
Turnout 31,585 +11.1%


Michigan's 11th Congressional District election, 2012 - Republican Primary[51]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Kerry Bentivolio 42,470 65.5 N/A
Republican Nancy Cassis (write-in) 21,436 33.5 N/A
Republican Other Write-in 21,436 0.3 N/A
Majority 21,034 32.8 -67.2
Turnout 64,081 -2.4
Michigan's 11th Congressional District Special election, 2012 - Republican Primary[52]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Kerry Bentivolio 10,280 41.7 N/A
Republican Nancy Cassis 8,803 35.7 N/A
Republican Carolyn Kavanagh 2,653 10.8 N/A
Republican Nancy Crider 1,208 4.9 N/A
Republican Steve King 1,715 7.0 N/A
Majority 1,477 6.3 N/A
Turnout 24,659 N/A
Michigan's 11th Congressional District election, 2012[53]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Kerry Bentivolio 181,788 50.8 -8.5
Democratic Syed Taj 158,879 44.4 +5.9
Libertarian John J. Tatar 9,637 2.7 +0.4
Green Stephen Paul Duke 4,569 1.3 +1.3
Natural Law Daniel Johnson 3,251 0.9 +0.9
Independent Total Write-In 15 0.004 +0.004
Majority 22,909 6.4% -14.4
Turnout 358,139 +50.8
Republican hold Swing
Michigan's 11th Congressional District Special election, 2012[54]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David Curson 159,258 48.4 N/A
Republican Kerry Bentivolio 151,736 46.1 N/A
Libertarian John J. Tatar 11,606 3.5 N/A
Taxpayers Marc J. Sosnowski 6,529 2.0 N/A
Majority 7,522 2.1 N/A
Turnout 329,137 N/A
Democratic gain from Republican Swing


Michigan's 11th Congressional District election, 2014 - Republican Primary[55]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican David Trott 42,008 66.4 N/A
Republican Kerry Bentivolio (I) 21,254 33.6 -32.7
Majority 20,754 32.8 0.0
Turnout 63,262 -1.3
Michigan's 11th Congressional District election, 2014[56]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican David Trott 140,435 55.9 +5.1
Democratic Bobby McKenzie 101,681 40.5 -3.9
Libertarian John J. Tatar 7,711 3.1 +0.4
Republican Kerry Bentivolio (I) (write-in) 1,411 0.6 -50.2
Majority 38,754 15.4% +9.0
Turnout 251,238 -29.8
Republican hold Swing


Michigan's 11th Congressional District election, 2016[57]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican David Trott 200,226 52.93 {{{change}}}
Democratic Anil Kumar 152.019 40.18 {{{change}}}
Libertarian Jonathan Ray Osment 9,516 2.52 {{{change}}}
Independent Kerry Bentivolio 16,543 4.37 {{{change}}}
Turnout 378,304 {{{change}}}
Republican hold Swing


  1. "Conservative Former Congressman Begins Vice Presidential Campaign". America Action News. May 10, 2016. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "- Washington Times". Retrieved 18 August 2015. 
  3. "Michigan, 11th House District". Retrieved 18 August 2015. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Williams, Corey. "Republican Bentivolio takes McCotter's old seat". Retrieved 8 November 2012. [dead link]
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Michigan news - Detroit Free Press -". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 18 August 2015. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Gray, Kathleen. "Kerry Bentivolio: From being Santa to long shot to front-runner for Congress". Detroit Free Press. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  7. Vasilogambros, Matt (November 2, 2012). "Michigan, 11th House District: Kerry Bentivolio (R)". 
  8. "Kerry Bentivolio, R (Mich.-11) : Roll Call". Retrieved 18 August 2015. 
  9. "Lucy's Law (2011) 61 min — Drama". Retrieved 2012-08-10. 
  10. "The President Goes to Heaven (2011) 85 min — Drama". Retrieved 2012-08-10. 
  11. "Bentivolio for U.S. Congress". Retrieved 2012-05-26. 
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  13. "3 former McCotter congressional aides arraigned on election fraud charges". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 18 August 2015. 
  14. "U.S. Rep. McCotter Statement on Petition Signatures". May 25, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-25. 
  15. "GOP shocked over congressman's petition woes". AP. May 26, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-26. 
  16. 16.0 16.1
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Gray, Kathleen (16 July 2012). "GOP hopeful Kerry Bentivolio makes fun of Bush-like character in movie". Retrieved 2 October 2012. 
  18. "Bentivolio wins Republican nomination in 11th congressional district". Observer and Eccentric Newspapers. August 10, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-11. 
  19. Henderson, Stephen (August 22, 2012). "Stephen Henderson: Candidate Bentivolio can run, but can he hide?". Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  20. "Local GOP leaders vote to support former state senator Nancy Cassis to replace Thad McCotter". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 18 August 2015. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 AP. "While a teacher, 11th Dist candidate Bentivolio's behavior was a problem, records show". Retrieved 6 September 2012. 
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Woods, Ashley (November 1, 2012). "Kerry Bentivolio, Michigan House Candidate, Is 'Mentally Unbalanced,' Says Brother". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  23. Nocera, Kate (1 November 2012). "Bro: House candidate Bentivolio 'mentally unbalanced'". Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  24. 24.0 24.1 AlHajal, Khalil. "Estranged relatives, unpaid debt and electric shock therapy emerge in bizarre Congressional race". Michigan Live. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  25. Livingston, Abby. "Michigan Primary Results: GOP Congressman Defeated". Roll Call. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  26. "Accidental Congressman loses seat in Michigan". Retrieved 20 November 2014. 
  27. Lynch, John (5 November 2014). "Trott defeats McKenzie in 11th District". Retrieved 20 November 2014. 
  28. "MIRS News – Subscriber Login". Retrieved 18 August 2015. 
  29. Spangler, Todd (July 15, 2014). "Trott holds 22-point lead on Bentivolio, poll says". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved July 21, 2014. 
  30. "2014 Official Michigan Primary Election Results – 11th District Representative in Congress 2 Year Term (1) Position". Retrieved 18 August 2015. 
  32. "Kerry Bentivolio to Wage Write-In Campaign". Roll Call. October 2, 2014. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  33. "Committee/Candidate Details". 
  34. 34.0 34.1 Chad Livengood (July 21, 2016). "Ex-Rep. Bentivolio seeks political comeback". Detroit News. 
  35. "Kerry Bentivolio on Bill of Rights". Retrieved 2012-05-26. 
  36. "Kerry Bentivolio on Free Speech". Retrieved 2012-05-26. 
  39. "Kerry Bentivolio on Civil Rights". Retrieved 2012-05-26. 
  40. "Kerry Bentivolio on Protecting Life". 
  41. "Kerry Bentivolio on the Economy". Retrieved 2012-05-26. 
  42. "Can Krazy Kerry Bentivolio survive his own antics?". The Detroit News. September 10, 2013. Retrieved November 6, 2013. 
  43. "Kerry Bentivolio Promises Hearing On Chemtrail Conspiracy". Deadline Detroit. September 10, 2013. Retrieved November 6, 2013. 
  44. "Congressman Kerry Bentivolio". YouTube. August 20, 2013. Retrieved November 12, 2014. 
  45. "GOP Congressman: Would Be "Dream Come True" To Submit Obama Impeachment Bill". Buzzfeed. August 20, 2013. Retrieved November 12, 2014. 
  46. "H.R. 2775 (113th): Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014". Retrieved 18 August 2015. 
  47. "Republican members of Congress from Metro Detroit explain why they voted no on ending shutdown". MLive. October 17, 2013. Retrieved November 6, 2013. 
  48. "Representative Bentivolio's Legislation". Library of Congress. Retrieved December 31, 2014. 
  49. "Bio". Retrieved 2012-05-26. 
  50. "Election Results - Primary Election - August 2, 2010". Michigan Department of State. February 29, 2016. Retrieved July 22, 2016. 
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  53. "Election Results - General Election - November 6, 2012". Michigan Department of State. February 22, 2016. Retrieved July 22, 2016. 
  54. "Election Results - Special General Election - November 6, 2012". Michigan Department of State. February 22, 2016. Retrieved July 22, 2016. 
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  56. "Election Results - General Election - November 4, 2014". Michigan Department of State. February 22, 2016. Retrieved July 22, 2016. 
  57. "2016 Michigan Election Results - General Election - November 8, 2016". Michigan Department of State. November 10, 2016. Retrieved November 17, 2016. 

Further reading

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
David Curson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 11th congressional district

January 3, 2013 – January 3, 2015
Succeeded by
David Trott

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